Interview with a SAGE radar operator as investigations intensify in the DB Cooper Case

By Bruce A. Smith

Concerns about the flight path abound in the DB Cooper case despite the 47-years since the iconic skyjacking occurred, and the closing the case in 2016 by the FBI due to a lack of any new information or suspects.

Nevertheless, citizen sleuths are carrying the torch, searching for the truth of America’s only unsolved skyjacking. The height of these inquiries deals with the location of DB Cooper’s plane when he jumped at 8:13 pm on November 24, 1971. Was it over Battleground, Washington as the FBI has long-professed? If so, why hasn’t anything ever been found in the FBI’s primary search area near Ariel and Amboy, Washington?

Further, why was $6,000 worth of Cooper’s ransom money discovered at Tina Bar, near Vancouver, WA, in 1980 – about 25 miles west of the FBI’s nominal flight path and landing zone?

As a result, the “FBI’s Flight Path,” long-touted as the Victor-23 air corridor flown by all aircraft heading south of Seattle when 10,000 feet in altitude as was Cooper’s 727 jetliner, is now being openly questioned by many investigators. Due to oscillations in the aircraft and a major “pressure bump” at 8:13 pm, it is believed that Cooper jumped out of his airplane at that time, but the big question remains: where was Flight 305 at 8:13 exactly?

To find an answer, researchers are striving to learn more about the high-tech SAGE radar system that tracked DB Cooper and his hijacked aircraft, Northwest Orient Flight 305, when it left Seattle and started flying to Mexico, as instructed by Cooper.

One Mountain News-WA reader who posts frequently at the DB Cooper threads, named “Flyjack,” has discovered a member of the 1971 SAGE team that was stationed at McChord Air Base in Tacoma, WA. Recently, Flyjack gave me the contact information for a David Morgan, and I spoke with Mr. Morgan today.

Morgan was indeed a SAGE operator stationed at McChord in November, 1971, but he was not on duty the night of the skyjacking. Nevertheless, we spoke at length about the technical capacities of the SAGE system and events surrounding the involvement of SAGE, McChord, and his 25th Air Defense Command based at McChord.

Morgan is a humble man, and warned me that some of his 47-year-old memories might be a little fuzzy. However, he confirmed that the SAGE system could only pick up a skydiver if chaff – tiny slivers of aluminum foil – was used to amplify the radar’s bounce-back signal. Since we know the chutes were delivered directly from civilian sources to NWO, it is highly likely that chaff was not used. As a result, the SAGE didn’t spot Cooper leaving his airplane.

Morgan also gave me an interesting military perspective on the Cooper skyjacking. He and many others at McChord were concerned that Cooper might use the airplane as a weapon and fly it into a military installation, or a nuclear reactor, such as the Hanford reactor and its supply of plutonium. He was quite passionate about this possibility, and acknowledged it presaged by thirty years the fears now borne by 9-11. In fact, he indicated that the primary purpose of the pursuit planes, the so-called “alert birds,” was to shoot down Cooper and his airplane if he strayed too close to a military installation, or gave indications that he might crash the aircraft into a critical civilian site.

Following that exchange, I shared with Morgan published reports that a Major Dan Dawson –  once he left the Air Force and was a WA State Legislator – had told a local Washington state journalist named Adele Ferguson that he was in charge of the DB Cooper search at McChord and commanding “alert birds” of the 318th Fighter Squadron, specifically F-106 interceptors, to shadow Flight 305. He also told Ferguson that he was also preparing parachutes for Cooper, and had been instructed by his NORAD command to not put chaff in the chutes.

Morgan and I talked at length about the vagaries of truth when power, money, and prestige are in play. He served tours in Vietnam and SE Asia, and has heard about MAC-V-SOG, the secret Special Forces units that fought outside of Vietnam and whose members feel strongly that DB Cooper was one of their guys.

As for SAGE radar, Morgan told me that it was a fine system, but inadequate – even for 1971. He said that the units Back East couldn’t handle the air traffic – commercial and military – on some days, and sort out the good guys from the baddies. “New York and northern Virginia just had too many aircraft,” he told me.  On the West Coast however, Morgan said they tracked all commercial and military aircraft with routine comprehensiveness.

He also described the SAGE system as being IBM’s first, and last, vacuum tube system for the military. The tubes created so much heat that they provided all the heat necessary for a three-story building, where one whole floor was dedicated to the SAGE processors.

What SAGE excelled at, according to Morgan, was sorting out radar signals in weak or overlapping areas where conventional signals were hard to correctly identity. SAGE was able to prioritize and deliver accurate data when other systems were unable. Morgan confirmed that SAGE could fly the F-106s to their targets, and also fire their weapons remotely. He also said that F-101s in Portland, F-102s in Boise, and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) interceptors on Vancouver Island in British Columbia were all linked into the SAGE and the 25th Air Defense based at McChord.

Yes, this was a delightful conversation with Mr. Morgan, but many questions still remain unanswered. Such is the Hunt for DB Cooper.


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45 Responses to Interview with a SAGE radar operator as investigations intensify in the DB Cooper Case

  1. Eric Ulis says:

    Let me be the first to comment under the “new” DB Cooper article. It will be nice to post–and review–DBC related material without having to drop down 1150 comments.


  2. TED says:

    This new thread certainly saves a lot of scrolling time. Thanks, Bruce.

  3. brucesmith49 says:

    Thank you, all. And thanks to FJ for the contact info on Dave.

  4. FLYJACK says:

    This is relevant here..

    FBI Cooper file PART 13 P 2908
    “He wanted us to send him a map showing the flightpath and headings in Washington and Oregon.
    I had one of the maps which we obtained from SAGE sent to him by courier on the night of 12/2/71. This was handled by SA_ _____ ”

  5. FLYJACK says:

    Eric,, EU wrote

    “It is noteworthy that in August of 1972 the FBI reviewed the NORJAK file which led to some things including what they termed “a more accurate method of plotting of radar data of the NORJAK flight using a computer.” Additionally, they said a “new search area” was plotted and searched with negative results.

    SAGE? Why the uncertainty?”

    Your answer is in the files… they used a more accurate method for plotting the SAGE data, from a 1 mile error to 1/2 mile.

    FBI FILE PART 30 P 10802

    Re: Seattle airtel to the Bureau, 2/7/73.


    In attempt to determine the accuracy of the first search area, the following was learned:

    The first search area was calculated using a system of plotting known as “GEOREF” (i.e. Geographical Reference) which has a plotting error of plus or minus one mile. A new system using latitude and longitude has a plotting error of plus or minus 1/2 mile. Using the new system, ___________ Northwest Orient Airlines ________ plotted a new course for the Norjak airplane and a new search area based on the new course. The new search area is partially outside the first area.

    It is felt that if Unsub’s parachute opened, he is no longer in the southwest Washington area, but if his parachute did not open, he would be in a corridor along the flight path. The time of jump is known, and an area approximately one mile by seven represents the area Unsub. would have landed in if his parachute did not open.

    Seattle Division is currently making arrangements to search that portion of the above described area not previously searched.

  6. brucesmith49 says:

    Ayn Dietrich-Williams

    I just received an email from Ayn D-W, the PIO for the DB Cooper case at the Seattle Division of the FBI. She is leaving her position there for “other opportunities.” She gave me a new email address for future contact with the Seattle office concerning DB Cooper: Ayn leaves at the end of May, 2019.

  7. brucesmith49 says:

    377 gave us the following info on SAGE, F-106s, and skydivers in an email today. Paraphrased, he said:

    David Morgan’s information needs some clarification: the F 102 and F 101 were not capable of being guided by SAGE flight control. Only F 106. Any fighter interceptor could get voice intercept vectors from SAGE but only F 106 had the MA1 data link flight control system.

    Like many radar operators, he may be mistaken about chaff being necessary to see a jumper. But it would sure make it easier. Only really useful after canopy opens and releases a chaff cloud.

    I talked with a SAGE tech years ago. He said the main reason you’d never see Coopers exit on SAGE is that the screen area immediately around the primary echo (tracked aircraft) was blocked out on the CRT screen and used to display data concerning the target.

  8. FLYJACK says:

    I posted an image of the 727 emergency door/placard at DZ and it does not match the Hicks placard…

    The Cowlitz sheriff was convinced the placard came from Cooper but the FBI wasn’t and they had to walk it back..

    This article plus the images/info I found convince me that it is very unlikely the placard came from Cooper. This is the crazy nature of this Cooper case, what at first seems to be a fact just isn’t.

    Eugene Register-Guard Jan 19,1979

    Decal’s link to hijacker discounted

    “SEATTLE (AP) – a heavy plastic placard found in a heavily forested area of southwest Washington could have dropped off any passing Boeing 727, not necessarily the plane skyjacked by the legendary D.B.Cooper, officials acknowledge.

    The FBI said Thursday the placard could have dropped from a plane during a re-enactment of the incident six weeks after the 1971 hijacking.

    Cowlitz County Sheriff Les Nelson said the placard was of the type posted next to the rear exits of 727’s and added, “It’s one in a million that any other plane could have lost it in the area in which D.B. Cooper jumped.”

    The FBI, however, said the placard, posted on the outside of the jetliner, could have dropped off almost any 727 that flew over southwest Washington during the past eight years.

    Ray Mathis, FBI spokesman in Seattle, said the hijacked plane was used in a simulation of the hijacking, and, “we noticed the decal was missing after that, but not before.”

    Those placards have been known to fall off on the runway,” added a Boeing spokesman.

    It was disclosed Wednesday that an elk hunter found the notice last November about 12 miles east of Kelso.The discovery was kept quiet while FBI and Cowlitz County sheriff’s detectives tried to verify the placard’s origin.

    A person identifying himself as D.B. Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient plane Thanksgiving eve on a flight between Portland and Seattle. He received $200,000 and jumped from the plane. Authorities have seen neither Cooper nor the money since.”

    • FLYJACK says:

      Are you paying attention EU and R99…. you are relying on a weak assumption and poor analysis to discount overwhelming evidence for the flightpath.

      Your alternate flightpath is DOA.

      The real takeaway and more important is the wind direction, shocker, it was an assumption by the FBI.. they used data from Portland and Salem averaged from 8-9..

      Wind data closer to 8 and closer to the jump zone indicates the wind was actually more ESE to S when/where Cooper jumped and that would spin the LZ slightly.

  9. Eric Ulis says:

    Daily DB Cooper Bite. I talk about the colorful and controversial Earl Cossey.


    • Easter Bunny says:

      If you aren’t Eric of Portland how could you possibly know anything about Earl Cossey? Did you ever talk to Earl Cossey and if so when? Did you talk to any of his family, his students, his work associates, etc? And why does the world suddenly have to rely on YOU for NORJAK information? Who are you anyway!?

      • Santa Clause says:

        Dear Easter Bunny, you sound more like Robert Blevins bitching that someone has more to offer the DBC case than Blevins. Eulis offers some interesting stuff and does it with class. All Bevins offers areccamping trips that he eventually canels anyway because no one else enrolls in his trips. Who would listen to a Blevin’s bites on the internet?

  10. brucesmith49 says:

    I’ve heard that Cossey initially claimed that Norman Hayden was the owner of the back chutes. Do you have the 302 where he is stating this? I’d love to see it.

    • brucesmith49 says:

      I mean I’ve NEVER heard that Cossey said Hayden was the owner.

      • FLYJACK says:

        FBI summary – he “packed” and “furnished” Hayden two “emergency” chutes around May 1971.. that doesn’t mean Cossey knew which back chutes actually went to the plane or were used by Cooper.

        The back chute found on the plane by the National Guard does NOT match the one Hayden got back. There had to be at least one other back chute involved, mixed in.

        FBI P 1950

        EARL J. COSSEY, 349 North 101st, Seattle, telephone SU3-0475, appeared at the Seattle Office at which time he furnished the following information:

        He is a master parachute rigger and jump instructor at Seattle Sky Sports, Issaquah, Washington, telephone EX2-3050.

        In May, 1971, _____________ Washington, ____________ needed two parachutes, COSSEY packed two parachutes which were furnished to _______ on or about May, 1971. He described these as back packs, commonly referred to as “emergency” parachutes. He also packed the two chest pack parachutes which were furnished to Northwest Airlines on November 24, 1971.

        The two parachutes recovered from the Northwest Airlines flight 305 at Reno, Nevada, on November 24, 1971, were described in detail to COSSEY at which time he described the missing back pack parachute as having a sage green nylon container, model NB6 (Navy Back pack 6) with sage green nylon harness, which harness has no “D” rings to mount a chest pack. The parachute is a 28 foot nylon white flat circular with a specially fitted foam padded cushion. The pilot chute is also white.

        Mr. COSSEY said that the missing chest pack parachute is a ground training pack dummied up to look like a good one. He said that by “dummied up” he means that tie downs were attached to the container. This chest pack was devised by COSSEY to teach trainees hung in a harness how to open the chest pack in the event of an emergency. The folds of the parachute are sewen together to preclude the parachute opening in the training room. Mr. COSSEY said that the back packs furnished the hijacker did not have the necessary hooks on the harness to attach a chest pack.

        FBI P 4955


        Nevada State Air National Guard, Reno Airport, Reno, Nevada, advised that after examining a parachute which was found on the Northwest airplane, which was hi-jacked in Seattle, Washington on November 24, 1971, and landed in Reno, Nevada, that this parachute was a 1960 model, 24 feet in length, Conacol type commercial parachute, manufactured by the Pioneer Parachute Company. _______ stated that this parachute was in very good condition and capable of being operated at any time. ___________ also found a white card card located in a pocket on this parachute, which indicated that this was inspected on May 21, 1971 by E.J. COSSEY, Riggers, license number 1579638. This card also the name of the Brown Engineering Company, Post Office Box 1436, Patterson, California, 95363.

      • Gypsy23 says:

        FLY is an outstanding researcher. Better than SNOWMMAN.

  11. Eric Ulis says:

    Daily DB Cooper Bite. I discuss a couple of DB Cooper mistakes that may help us solve the mystery.


  12. Eric Ulis says:

    Daily DB Cooper Bite. I discuss the psychological profile of DB Cooper.


  13. brucesmith49 says:

    Any profile of skyjackers, especially of an extortion-like scenario such as Cooper, is incomplete without bringing the profiles of Robb Heady and other DBC copycats into the mix.

    I think Hubbard’s analysis is not highly regarded at this point. I haven’t read the book, but it does seem antiquated and slanted. He salient point about the distorted sexual nature of skyjackers – basically being “mamma’s boys” – I find lacking in depth and meaning.

    Eric, your clip above gets the conversation started, but there is much more to discuss. We know a lot about Robb Heady, Richard McCoy, and Martin McNally ( a real piece of work in my view – a real criminal in heart and soul). Lots of background. We have a book from Robb’s first wife talking about their relationship and his skyjacking. We have McNally on hours worth of podcasts, and McCoy has a whole book written about him, plus associated papers and commentaries – such as the role of his wife Karen.

    As for suspects, does anyone think Sheridan Peterson is a Momma’s Boy? Not me. Yes, he has uneven relationships with women – we don’t even know if his last wife is alive or dead, nor the circumstances surrounding her fate, but still…

    And Rackstraw? A Momma’s Boy? Hardly. A killer, yes, as his family is convinced that Airborne Bob whacked his step-daddy and then buried him in the gravel driveway. Nice guy, but he doesn’t even come close to fitting the Hubbard profile, as I know it.

  14. brucesmith49 says:

    As for Geoffrey Gray, everything he gives to the conversation has to be taken with a grain of salt, imho. He is so enamored of Robert Gregory, yet no one knows where Gregory sat on 305. The 302s are inconclusive and conflicting – one has him sitting in 18 C, along with DBC, Tina, and Bill Mitchell. A tight squeeze, I should say. But GG can’t resolve that dilemma.

    And Gregory’s testimony is such an extreme out-lier. A maroon-colored suit? Really? And Tina missed that? Yougottabekiddingme….

    It is hard not to suspect that GG has a hidden agenda at play when it comes to DB Cooper. Remember, GG has yet to explain how he got such unprecedented access to the files and evidence in 2009 and 2010 – but he couldn’t find Tina and BEGGED Galen to tell him where she was.

  15. brucesmith49 says:

    Yes, DB Cooper’s behavior is uneven and odd. Giddy and childlike when he got the money? Really? How bizarre.

    But Eric, making leaps of faith about DBC being broke, out of work, and getting harassed by his wife for being a loser???? …Sigh. That is so unfounded. It’s possible, sure, but c’mon. The guy pulled off a stunt that the FBI didn’t think could be done, plus he knew more about the 727 than the pilots. That’s not the profile of a wannabe loser, imho.

  16. Eric Ulis says:

    Hubbard’s psychological analysis is legitimate for the subjects he studied. However, extortion was not a common theme among this group. I will also say that the gravity stuff is bizarre.

    The parts I found interesting relate to the childhood struggles and the unaccomplished adult aspect. Something shapes a person’s mind to make them capable of skyjacking a jet and bailing out mid-flight with 200K as a 40-something.

    I firmly believe that DBC was the consummate underachiever. That he felt as if he was the smartest guy in the room and that he was underappreciated. Moreover, that he felt somewhat uncomfortable around women. These are psychological aspects of DBC’s personality that I suspected before reading Hubbard’s book. After reading the book it seemed to validate some of my thoughts.

    Sheridan is a completely separate subject. That said, my analysis of DBC fits Sheridan to a T.

    I’ve posed this question to others before: Take an expert skydiver such as 377. If something along the lines of NORJAK happened today, and the culprit fit the description of 377, no one would consider for a moment that 377 had just skyjacked a jet. On the other hand, it seems that everyone who knew Sheridan actually thinks the opposite of him. Virtually all say, in effect, “yeah that sounds like Sheridan.” I find this both unusual and very telling. It’s certainly not concrete evidence of guilt, but it must be taken seriously when multiple people who know the guy actually take the time to contact the FBI and say “you may want to check this guy out.”

    One final point. The Daily DB Cooper Bite is intended to briefly touch upon a subject. This is particularly noticeable when addressing a complicated subject such as today’s, or discussing suspects, such as tomorrow’s about Rackstraw. There just isn’t enough time to discuss these matters in any great detail.

    • 437 AmPsyAssoc. says:

      Ulis’ review is nonsense. He has no credentials in these matters any more than he is certified to work on the Space Shuttle. He has no way to put Hubard’s old work into perspective. You can find a review of Hubbard’s book on Skyjackers here: Here is one passage:

      “The reader must, however, be cautioned about the members of this control-group study who had no particular political ideology and who, according to Dr. Hubbard, were psychotic.4 Since the study does not include politically motivated skyjackers who do not fit the Hubbard mold, these findings can only be of limited value. Dr. Hubbard’s study suggests that there is no such thing as a normal political skyjacker, and in fact, even those who claim to be so, may have been acting and feeling as a group in the same manner as the individual skyjackers he studied. Thus, there is limited utility in Hubbard’s model since it rejects a large population of known skyjackers. ”

      One need only remind everyone of the FAA Psychiatrist that gave the crew of 305 a useless inaccurate diagnosis and predictions. Hubbard may fall in the same mold. But of course Mr. Ulis would not know that. However, that does not stop Mr. Ulis from giving his own opinions, on matters he knows nothing about! You can find almost anything on the internet. Mr. Ulis is making sure of that!

    • brucesmith49 says:

      I agree, the bite is only that – not a full meal. In the case of the topic of a psychological profile of Cooper, I suggest that we have many “bites.” First, the Hubbard perspective. Then perhaps others, such as violent criminals like McNally and Rackstraw.

      As for “firmly believ(ing) that DB Cooper was an underachiever,” that subject is certainly worthy of an entire bite of its own. I don’t see it. Let’s hear more on this, Eric.

  17. FLYJACK says:

    Nailed it,, finally found out what Hahenman was doing in Vietnam… matches the Cooper tie date 1965+ and matches the environment/occupation for those particles..

  18. brucesmith49 says:

    Okay, you nailed it, FJ. But what exactly did you nail? Details, please.

  19. brucesmith49 says:

    Here is a synopsis of Hubbard’s book. Thanks to the above commentator who left the link.



    By DAVID G. HUBBARD. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1971. Pp. 262. $5.95.

    The author is a Dallas psychiatrist with special training in psychoanalysis who, in addition to his private psychiatric practice, serves as consultant to the United States Public Health Research Center in Fort Worth, Texas, and to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. He came quite by accident to the scientific study of skyjackers early in January, 1967 when he was called to examine two skyjackers being held in a federal prison facility. Both men were examined on the same day and that coincidence allowed him to recognize several striking similarities in the psychological patterns of both offenders.

    The occasion set this trained scientist on the trail of the pathological skyjacker.1Dr. Hubbard recalls his difficulties with governmental bureaucracy when he proposed to follow this lead but was able, nevertheless, to conduct taped interviews with twenty skyjackers the results of which are published in this book. Sixteen of the twenty failed in their attempts and four reached Cuba, but Dr. Hubbard does not distinguish between failures and successes. The conclusion which emerges from Dr. Hubbard’s study dispels the image of the “average” skyjacker as being a rugged revolutionary type fighting against “capitalistic” oppression, a la “Che” Guevara. The profile which emerges shows these individuals as shy, timid, sexually passive, generally apolitical and almost always consistent failures in almost everything they have ever attempted: marriage, sex, business, and social activity in general. Their appearance is one of helplessness, except for the few exhilarating moments when they seize control of the aircraft. This then became the only diversion from a previous life pattern wherein they had felt dominated and overpowered by circumstances which guided and determined their hapless and helpless lives. Their childhood usually revealed conflict between a violent and often alcoholic father and a very religious and zealous mother, who was usually dominated and abused by the father.

    [The term “skyjacker” is not a legal term referring to a person who engages in the unlawful seizure of aircraft. It is the author’s catchy word of art designed to capture the imagination of the potential reader. A discussion of the Tokyo and Hague Conventions on unlawful seizure of aircraft is contained in Professor Sundberg’s article supra at -and Mr. Klimek’s comment, supra at -.2. For an excellent book review, see Fletcher Knebel, Look, 23-26, February 9, 1971. [On figures in hijackings until 1969, see Evans, Aircraft Hijacking: Its Cause and Cure, 63 AJIL 695 (1969); for a comprehensive study of cases and disposition, see Hirsch and Fuller, Aircraft Piracy and Extradition, 26 N.Y.L. FORUM 392 (1970)]

    This rather typical Freudian observation is discussed in lay terms and adds nothing to existing scientific knowledge as to the individuals; but the similarities among the interviewed cases is a significant observation. Dr. Hubbard proposes an interesting theory on the effects of the force of gravity, particularly on the vestibulor apparatus of the inner ear, which produces the “sense of balance” necessary to ambient physical reality and the potential damage to this human mechanism (Meniere’s disease), resulting in vertigo, loss of hearing, and other symptoms. He suspects that many skyjackers suffered from some mild impairment of the inner ear during childhood which, he surmises, produced severe psychological effects in these individuals. The “crypto-vestibular” data collected by the author during these interviews, reveals that almost all of the interviewed skyjackers had early childhood memories of being in a prone or supine position and unable to rise, or being very frightened and unable to move. This hypothesis fits in the projected image of the skyjacker as Dr. Hubbard sees him.

    He discloses also that the interviewed subjects had had vivid dreams of flying and were generally obsessed with space; some even had taken flying lessons at one time and most of them had watched the television coverage of space shots with intensive interest. He concluded from this observation that the incidence of skyjacking increased in direct proportion to the intensity of the news coverage of space related activities, observing that skyjackings are almost non-existent during periods when there are no reported space activities. He noted that as soon as astronauts are back on Earth and the news has been absorbed, skyjackings be-gin to occur. This observation is of limited scientific value, however, since the experiment itself is not of such a nature as to justify generalizations of this variety.

    Although interest in space or atmospheric flight is not a determinative factor by itself, it is revealing of something which all other humans share with the skyjackers, namely, the awareness that they are “tied” or “held” to Earth by a force which, although invisible, is an integral part of their lives. The urge to feel free, however, is not demonstrative of any pen-chant for skyjacking an aircraft. Dr. Hubbard points out that the first thing a newborn infant becomes aware of is the force of gravity. This experience begins in the sac of amniotic fluid inside his mother’s body when the unborn child is in a state of suspension or weightlessness, hence, the tendency to seek the feeling thereafter. While only a few individuals can experience actual space flight, anyone with the price of an airline ticket can break away from Earth and fly, for a time at least, experiencing this innate sense of freedom and freedom from the actual sensation of gravitational pull. The skyjackers Dr. Hubbard studied are viewed by him as trying to “break away” or “rise above” their sense of being “held down” by the reality of their lives, while at the same time defying the force of gravity on board the aircraft. Dr. Hubbard goes so far as to state that “[t]he fear of gravitational pull may well serve as the paradigm of all subsequent fears.” Skyjackers are still, according to the author, not usually frightened by the dangers of their conduct, because they are rather pathetic individuals who are not prone to violence and who are in need of psychiatric help. This is a conclusion which this reviewer fails to note as necessarily logically resulting from the author’s premise.

    Dr. Hubbard is very critical of the attitudes of public officials, judicial officers, airline officials and flight personnel, which he sees as simplistic and vindictive-oriented, seeking only the punishment of the offenders and not their rehabilitation or treatment. With the present state of penology in the United States, this position is very defensible. The solution to the problem of skyjacking, asserts Dr. Hubbard, lies in more research by competent psychiatrists with such persons held in custody throughout the world in order that more can be learned about them. Dr. Hubbard rejects punitive measures such as armed aerial guards and the imposition of the death penalty, which increase the challenge to the skyjacker and ‘actually stimulate the occurrence of skyjackings.

    The reader must, however, be cautioned about the members of this control group study who had no particular political ideology and who, according to Dr. Hubbard, were psychotic. Since the study does not include politically motivated skyjackers who do not fit the Hubbard mold, these findings can only be of limited value.

    Dr. Hubbard’s study suggests that there is no such thing as a normal political skyjacker, and in fact, even those who claim to be so may have been acting and feeling as a group in the same manner as the individual skyjackers he studied. Thus, he transplants psychological findings of individuals to a social-psychological pattern wherein the group as a whole recognized that they were in a desperate and helpless condition and that they were doomed to failure unless they so acted.

    This hypothesis can only be established after further study, for, as Dr. Hubbard asserts, the solution to the skyjacking problem can only come after we find out exactly who the skyjackers are and what motivates them. That in itself, however, allows a contrary assertion that such motivating force can well be political or humanitarian.

    The few cases he studied cannot account for the many successful and abortive ones wherein the perpetrator acts out of deep commitment to an ideology or out of determination to strike out against oppressive political conditions. Certainly, any person defiant of authority can be found to act in a manner reflective of his self-conception which can be retraced to his childhood, his inner pressures and social milieu impact. All of these factors do not, however, by themselves take that type of behaviour outside the norm of accepted social behaviour if the group shares the basic values which the actor represented by his manifested conduct. As the first study of its kind, this book is most illuminating, but its sampling and conclusions have limited relevance. Would anyone question that in a psychopathic ward the patients are psychopaths? For the lawyer, the book offers no more than insight into some forms of psychosis and a description of psychological factors leading to this type.

    [Cf. Bassiouni, Ideologically Motivated Offenses and the Political Offenses Exception in Extradition-A Proposed Juridical Standard for an Unruly Problem,19 DEPAUL L. REV. 217 (1969).]

    It does not show how to detect nor does it reveal how to cope with this type of psychosis, but merely offers a hypothesis of its raison d’etre after it has once manifested itself. The criticism leveled against the system of criminal justice is reminiscent of Dr. Karl Meninger’s description in his book The Crime of Punishment. The Skyjacker is essentially like any other offender, aware of the legal proscription but unaffected by its intended deterrent effect. Like other offenders he engages in his antisocial behaviour for a variety of reasons which lead him to that tragic conclusion. That we should know more about what actuates people’s antisocial behaviour is axiomatic if we are to evolve an enlightened system of legal prevention and social control of harmful behaviour.
    M. C. Bassiouni

  20. brucesmith49 says:

    Of note on Hubbard, he interviewed a total of 20 skyjackers. Oddly, he found most of them to be psychotic, as I understand his findings.

    • Marla says:

      I still enjoy EU’s Cooper bites. Didn’t Bruce say that Tina Mucklow’s psychological profile is far more tantalizing than Cooper’s. There’s one more for EU.

    • Johnnie Greene says:

      Question for Eric: does the Hubbard profiling of skyjackers fit Sheridan Peterson?

  21. Eric Ulis says:

    The profile put forward by Hubbard does not precisely fit Sheridan. No profile can.

    The critical points in my mind relate to the troubled childhood, failures in life, non-violence, desire to reassert control over one’s life, challenges with women, and lack of fear of the inherent dangers of skyjacking a jet.

    In those areas the profile looks very similar to Sheridan.

    DB Cooper was not a politically motivated skyjacker. He wasn’t a terrorist. He was down on his luck and was tired of getting rolled in life.

    • brucesmith49 says:

      C’mon Eric, Ya gotta tell us WHY you say things like “down on his luck” and “tired of getting rolled in life.”

      Those are SO speculative and come from far out on a limb, as far as I can tell.

      • Eric Ulis says:

        It is important to understand that all of this is speculation. How can it not be? Who among us knows DB Cooper? Unless someone actually knows the guy personally, we are left only to speculate based upon things we’ve observed.

    • Condor says:

      Fact is this is just performance art on your part, and you can forget the ART! You are no psychologist – you may need one. At best you are an Impersonator. Why did DB Cooper forums deserve your favors or attention? Were you looking to reform everyone?

    • TED says:

      I actually think Eulis is heading in the right direction. Keep plugging!!!

  22. Eric Ulis says:

    Daily DB Cooper Bite. I discuss DBC suspect Robert Rackstraw.


  23. Eric Ulis says:

    Daily DB Cooper Bite. I discuss whether the FBI is still holding any information back. If so, why and what could it be?


  24. FLYJACK says:

    Here we go………………………

    Aviation Week Dec 6, 1965 ran an article on a 727 prototype testing for the military (727M)… including a ventral drop test.

    “Air drop tests with the 727 prototype indicate that loads up to 30 x 55 x 135 in could be dropped through the rear stairwell”

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